Ah yes, what better way to start off than with a remade classic; the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. For late 80’s to early 90’s kids such as myself, this re-release of one of the greatest games to grace the shelves is synonymous to our own growth. We played through Link’s journey as a child and as soon as we finished the game we set it aside, maybe out of sight and out of mind, but we could always bring up fond memories if it was ever brought up, just as Link was to all of the citizens he aided across the land of Hyrule. Time passes, things change and out of the blue, we see that what we grew up knowing has come back in a sleeker, more refined, dare I say sexier package as waves of nostalgia flow through our minds as we tax our brains remembering how to clear the Water Temple.
Adapting a home console to a handheld was definitely no easy task, but thankfully Grezzo (who purchased rights to the game from Nintendo EAD) took the task upon themselves to take the best of both worlds, allowing in-screen accessibility to our inventories without compromising playability.
For those who remember the limited capabilities our controllers brought us, it should come as a relief to know that instead of having three on hand items, we can now quickly access four, excluding the Ocarina which gets its own place on the Nintendo 3DS’ touch screen interface. Happen to not remember melodies like the Song of Time, the Bolero of Fire or Epona’s Song? Fear not gamers! A music sheet can be accessed at any point to provide us with all songs we have acquired over the course of our travels.
But what about the newbies? With some refined mechanics, better in game physics and with a more realistic feel to the overall game, it really stands up to its “E for Everyone (10+)” rating. If any improvement should be brought to attention, it would have to be how Navi’s –wonderful– suggestion frequency has been toned down so younger players (or at least those who have never been able to play the original version) won’t break down into fits of insanity like many of us have in the past. Other than that, the controls seemed rather fluid and the only complaint that I could give was that occasionally, the camera would focus more on a spotlight view of Link, focusing on the top of his head, rather than looking at the surroundings.
In advertisements, the Nintendo 3DS’ gyroscopic capabilities were emphasized in that when looking through Link’s eyes in first person mode or using weapons such as the Slingshot or the Fairy Bow, one’s aim could be directed via tilting the system left, right, up and down and any angle therein. To be fair for potential consumers, this is both a blessing and a curse, but a very weak one at that. The system aiming functions prove their worth when one has to launch a quick volley of arrows, but if one tries to act like a sniper in places like the Gerudo Valley, absolute rigidity and stiffness is required to keep one’s aim juuuuuust right. To compensate for this, however, Grezzo allowed the analog stick at the left side of the system to direct aim as well, for those who just want to keep things nice and simple.
For veterans like myself or for other skilled gamers who wish to make the game harder than it already is, there are two routes to sate their desires; a three-heart run and the ever popular Master Quest. The former of which is a self-imposed challenge, really testing a player’s merit to forgo all health benefits they receive down the road (excluding potions, fairies, etc.). If there’s any upside to this abhorrently daunting task, there’s the somewhat optimistic sentiment knowing that if one dies in the course of gameplay, their entire health bar would be refilled.
The latter challenge was actually first introduced as a bonus that came to those who pre-ordered their copies of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. The gist of Master Quest is that everything in the game is mirrored, all enemies do double damage, puzzle sequences are different and gameplay in its own right is altered to make it its own separate, but equal game. It is recommended, however that if the player takes it upon themselves to do either one of these challenges, they should stick with it through the end, much to Link’s chagrin as he may die countless times through the course of gameplay.
And last but not least, the graphics. For many consumers who are considering purchasing it for nostalgic value, I can safely say that the 3D capabilities presented through the DS are actually quite stunning. On top of giving the “standard” 2D a complete makeover, complete with sharpening and re-texturing, the 3D view of the game takes on a much deeper view. While not giving the appearance that things are flying out to the player, the 3D view fleshes out the game in a way that we’re looking at what happens in the course of gameplay is being viewed behind a glass screen while everything pops out into the realm of realism. Buildings pop and stand out, shops now seem bright and busy instead of some guy selling off his possessions in some barren flat and colors of the environment are bright and vibrant and our green-tunic hero of Hyrule actually stands out as a person, rather than as some flat character with the consistency of its 64-bit predecessor.
Overall, I have to say this game was utterly phenomenal. It blew me right back to the days of my youth and I racked my brain trying to get through the game with no guide assistance, an ill advised way to go about playing. This re-release retained everything that made it great, then increased picture quality, added some makeup to make everything look nice and pretty and to top it off with a bow, found a perfect, symbiotic mix between a title from the past with technology of the future. It’s a great way to dust off what’s old and put it right back on display and with just a LITTLE touching up can convince some players that it’s quite literally a new game. Any quirks the game had, at least through my play throughs, were quite easy to remedy and provided an absolutely enjoyable and mentally taxing joyride. It's definitely worth the purchase and a definitively weighty aspect to influence buying a Nintendo 3DS. Who's to say Nintendo won't pump out a remade version of Majora's Mask later down the road? Until then, let's travel up and down the river of time with Link and enjoy ourselves along the way.
Reviewer rating: 5/5
-Kris (Kaz) Sturm